ALBANY – Bulloch Academy senior Kelcie Jacobs wanted just two things as she toed the starting line in the Class AA girls’ 1600-meter run Thursday.
“I wanted to defend my state championship but I also wanted to finish with a good time,” she said at the conclusion of the first day of the Georgia Independent School Association state track and field championships at Hugh Mills Stadium. “This was going to be my last mile race and I wanted to win and finish strong.”
Jacobs did both as she flew around Sherwood Christian Academy’s Katie Meagher at the beginning of the final lap of the four-lap race and sprinted the final 400 meters to win her second straight state title. She clocked a personal best 5:38.93.
“It feels great,” said Jacobs. “It was a huge accomplishment for me and one of my goals. I really wanted to get into the 5:30s. It was a long shot because my best time this season has been a 5:48.”
Sophomore Haley Burke came in third with a time of 6:03.05 to give the Lady Gators 16 points after just one event in the three-day meet. The Bulloch girls are favored to beat the 20 other squads and capture the state title for the second consecutive year.
The majority of Day One of the meet was qualifying heats for seven running events. Sixteen competitors competed in each race in each of the three classifications (A, AA and AAA). Only the top eight advance to Saturday’s finals.
Today, all field events will be held as finals as well as the boys’ and girls’ 800m run. First call is at 8:45 a.m.
In the girls’ 1600m race, 16 runners toed the starting line. Meagher took the lead from the blast of the gun and Jacobs fell in behind.
“I decided at the beginning of the race that I was going to go all out on the last lap,” said the Region 2-AA champion. “But, if I didn’t feel right, I would hold back and try to do just enough to win.”
The pair stayed together for three laps, leaving the pack behind. Jacobs inched ever closer to Meagher, at one point seeming to run on her heels. Just before bell rang for the final lap, the Screven County native swung out to the right, accelerated and flashed past her opponent. After the first turn, there was no catching Jacobs.
“I felt great the whole race and felt I could take the last lap really strong,” she said. The coaches told me that I ran the last lap in 74 seconds. That might have been faster than my first.”
Jacobs will go for her second state championship today when she competes in the 800m run at approximately 9 a.m. The region champion in the event comes in with the fastest time.
In the boys’ 1600m final, BA junior Will Johnson clocked a 5:08 to finish sixth. Qualifying for Saturday’s finals in the girls’ running events were: the 4x100m #1 relay team of Jacobs, Heaven Hinton, Anna Newton and Rachel Gilbert (52.44), Kaylee Dennard in the 100m hurdles (18.70), Hendley Kimbrell in the 100m hurdles (17.81) and the 300m hurdles (51.59), Rachel Gilbert in the 400m dash (61.84) and in the 200m dash (26.88), Newton in the 400m dash (64.17), Hinton in the 300m hurdles (51.46) and Mary Margaret Reeves in the 200m dash (28.69).
Qualifying for Saturday’s finals in the boys’ running events were: the 4x100m relay team of Ellis Lane, David Sawyer, Xavier Tolliver and Lestonz Lewis (46.62), John Harden in the 100m hurdles (16.16) and in the 300m hurdles (43.70), Lewis in the 100m dash (11.61) and the 200m dash (23.65) and Tolliver in the 400m dash (55.58).